Prepared for the meeting of the Primacy of the Gospel
assembled at the General Conference, October 16, 1996
by Gerald L. Finneman
Christ, in laying aside His attributes as God in order to become human,
became the representative Man of the fallen race. This was because the
first man, Adam, abandoned headship of the human race. He surrendered his
legal and moral interests in this matter to the enemy of God and man.
The term Adam is used four ways in Scripture. First of all, it
is the original man’s name. Second, both the first man and his wife,
Eve, are called Adam. Third, mankind is identified as Adam. And fourth,
Christ is designated as the "last Adam" (Genesis 2:18,19; 1:26, 27;
5:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 15:45). Well over five hundred times the term adam
is used to designate more than an individual. In most instances it refers
to the entire race, hence, it is a corporate solidarity term. It denotes
the condition of oneness resulting from an identity of nature among the
members of the human race.
The first Adam not only ruptured his communion with God and brought the
curse of the law upon himself, but also upon all of his descendants. The
race was given over to the headship of Satan. So Christ had to come as the
new Adam to contest the devil’s usurpation as the head of the race. Only
"in" Christ, and by Him, could the original promises to mankind
be realized. In considering our topic of the "in Christ" motif
we must contemplate the corporate solidarity of the human race as
represented in the first and last Adams. This representation started in
Heaven’s discussions; later it was carried out "in Christ" on
Following is an outline of Scripture texts and comments that deal with
the "in Christ" concept. In the endnotes more information is
presented on various points made in the outline.
2 Timothy 1:9—The "in Christ" motif began in heaven, not on
Grace was given to us "in Christ Jesus" before time
This had to have been in a representative sense, as we were
not personally present. In eternity, Christ became the
astipulator, the second party, of the Covenant of Grace.
Should Adam fall, Christ guaranteed man’s redemption
and restoration to God’s favor. Christ’s response in
that covenant, of obedience (righteousness) by faith in
behalf of mankind, was the archetype of His appropriate
response within His history as the second Adam.1
As recorded in Isaiah, God promised to "keep" or
"preserve" Christ when He would give Him "as a
covenant to (‘of’ KJV; ‘for’ NIV) the people" in the
Incarnation. In that covenant promise Christ was given as the
"light to the Gentiles, that He should be [God’s] salvation
to the ends of the earth"—Isaiah 49:8, 6; see also 42:5, 6.
The Father sent Him as "Savior of the world"—1
Accordingly Christ came "to save the world’—John
The Samaritans recognized Christ as "Savior of the
Thus it was that before Adam sinned, grace, "in
Christ," awaited to take man by the hand as soon as he fell.
Romans 5:14—Adam, as a type of Christ.2
Both Adams were representatives of the fallen race. Both were held
responsible for their conduct. Their conduct involved more than
Mankind was represented in Adam. In his disobedience he enslaved
himself and his posterity to sin and death. Because of that, nothing but
condemnation for the human race remained.3
God became not only the stipulator but, in Christ, also the
astipulator. Both initiator and respondent meet "in Christ."
God became man, not just a man, but mankind. He took the role of man. In
carrying out the role assigned in the Everlasting Covenant in the
context of fallen humanity, Christ redeemed man.4
Matthew 3:13-4:4—Christ began His public ministry as the second Adam.
He was baptized "to fulfill all righteousness." This
was not for Himself, but for the fallen race. This obedience was a
legal righteousness. He represented us. This fulfillment of
righteousness was legally imputed to the fallen race.
The Son of Man’s prayer on the river bank after His baptism
included the human race. God answered that prayer: "This is My
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." That word to our
Representative is assurance that God "made us accepted in the
Beloved" (Matthew 3:17; Ephesians 1:6).5 In Christ He
communicated with mankind.6
When Christ entered the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil, He went
as the second Adam. In this series of temptations, as the Representative
Man, Christ began where the first Adam began—on the point of appetite.
Christ was tempted to use divine power to create needed food. He
answered as the Second Adam. He quoted from Deuteronomy,
declaring His legal headship over the human race. This was over
against the Devil’s usurpation of headship. Forcibly the Son of Man,
the Second Adam declared, "man (lit. Adam) shall not live by bread
alone; but man (Adam) lives by every word that proceeds from the
mouth of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 8:3).
In these words Christ clarified the central issue in the
controversy between man and Satan: Who is the head of the
race and how shall he represent the race, in unrighteousness,
as the devil did or through righteousness by faith? The Second Adam, the
Man, would live righteously
by faith alone for faith came to Him through the word of
God. Christ’s life of righteousness, by faith alone, was on
behalf of the fallen race.
The global dimensions are brought out again in 1
A raised Christ was fundamental to the gospel according to Paul (:
Paul delineates events based upon the fact of Christ’s
resurrection from the dead
The resurrection of believers
The resurrection of nonbelievers
The destruction of death
The order of resurrection is stated—"each in his own
turn."7 In verses 20-24 we have
a description of the order of the resurrections according to their places of importance. After stating
that "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive" Paul delineates the order:
"Christ the first-fruits."
"Afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming."
"Then the end," i.e. the final ranks of raised
About two thousand years elapse between Christ’s resurrection
and that of His
followers. There will be another thousand years between then and the last
The "last Adam" theme is worked out more fully in Romans
5, but here the
development is from the concept of "first-fruits" in connection with
representatives of the fallen race. As the first-fruits Christ was
"us." Because of this
the human race is to be resurrected, each in his group and rank.
1 Corinthians 15:27 is a reference from Psalm 8:6 referring to Adam’s
headship. But here
Paul interprets Psalm 8 to mean that Christ is the recipient to whom the promise
universal rule was made: "He has put all things under His feet."9
Hebrews 2:6-9 also
quoting Psalm 8 reveals that Adam’s headship was lost, but that Jesus redeemed
failure and became the second and final head of the race.
Hebrews 2:9—"Jesus ... was made for the suffering of death ... that He, by the grace of God
might taste death for everyone."
His death was universal in scope; unilateral both in legal and
moral obligations on
behalf of the fallen race from the prescribed standpoint of the Everlasting
and unconditional as to any provision making the effect of this legal act
on the occurrence of an uncertain future event.10 His death covered all manner
men, without distinction and without exception.
2 Corinthians 5: 14-21—presents the motive, the ministry, and the message
of the cross of Christ.
the motive: the impelling love of Christ, verse 14.
the ministry: of reconciliation, verses 18, 19.
the message: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to
Himself, not imputing their
trespasses to them . . . [therefore] be reconciled to God," verses 19,20.
Perceiving some of the breadth and depth of the manner of Christ’s
love for us as
manifested in His death leads us from premise to conclusion as it did Paul:
died for all, then all died," verse 14.
Every man died in Christ. Not that man was paying the price for
his sin. Man
is not a co-redeemer with Christ. There is only one sufficient offering. That
One is Christ. Furthermore, this is not a metaphysical ontological nature of
mankind being in Christ.11
When Jesus died He did so as mankind’s representative and head,
not as an
individual. He was a corporate person, the Public Man. He took the full
burden of the sin of the fallen race upon Himself, so that when He died all
died. In this sense, as our representative, we were included "in Him."
7:22—Christ, the Surety
of the Everlasting Covenant
A surety is a bondsman who becomes
responsible for another person's failure. If a man charged with a
crime is incarcerated, another may put up a bond consisting of
money, property, or his life, as the case may be. This is for the
purpose of getting the one charged with the violation out of
custody to await his trial. If the one charged with the crime
fails to show up for his trial, the bondsman becomes liable for
that failure and pays the stipulated penalty.
Psalm 69:4 prophesied of Jesus as our Surety: "Though I have stolen nothing, I still
must restore it." Christ was innocent, yet made Himself
responsible for our failure. Consequently, God "has not
dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according
to our iniquities" (Psalm 103:10). Our trespasses were not
imputed to us, but they were to Christ. "He ... who knew
no sin" was "made to be sin for us; that we might be
made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- Daniel 9:26—Messiah was
"cut off, but not for Himself." Man, in Adam,
failed, but Christ as our Surety represented us. He was
"cut off" for us.
Circumcision "in Him" fulfilled at the cross